Thursday, December 14, 2006

Meeting Michellie--"Really Cool"

I have a confession to make. I skipped my workouts yesterday. Why? Well, I didn't care what happened to the rest of the world but at 6 p.m. I was going to be at Road Runner Sports. Why? For the monthly Tri Club San Diego meeting, of course! Not that I go every month, although I usually regret it when I miss it. In addition to free stuff and pizza, there is always an excellent guest speaker. I missed Kate Major last month and have enjoyed Bob Rolland Roch Frey & Paul Huddle at previous meetings. Howver, I couldn't miss tonight's speaker, my all-time favorite:
Michellie Jones!

Michellie has become my favorite pro-female triathlete. She lives in Carlsbad, just north of me and competes in several local races. It seemed as if she was in almost every race I did in 2006! I always thought that was neat--to be racing behind some of the world's greatest athletes. After volunteering at America's Finest City 1/2 Marathon this August, I waited at the finish to cheer Jason on. Since I had led the wheelchair division, I was at the very front. I saw a tall, lean woman come flying down the chute and heard several cries, "Go, Michellie!" It was the first time I had seen her "in person" and it was very surreal. She seems so open, honest, and genuine--someone I can get behind and root for. I was definitely pulling for her to win the World Ironman Championships and was elated when she did.

So when I heard she would be the speaker at our club meeting yesterday, I knew I had to go. Before the meeting started, she stood at the back, wearing her signature pink jersey, signing autographs. Autographs! I had to have one. I told her to make it out to Rachel and she asked, "Is that you?" I was speechless. I wasn't prepared to speak to her! I told her that yes, that was me. She said, "Nice to meet you," in the sweet, characteristic manner that is Michellie. I tried to tell her that I admired her abilities as an amazing professional athlete but all I could get out was that I thought she was "really cool" like a bumbling 12-year-old with a crush. I told her I had cheered her on at the end of America's Finest City 1/2 Marathon, and she responded, "I actually paced myself for that race, and I still blew up at the end," she said with her cute Australian accent. So modest. I wanted to tell her that even if she thought she had "blown up" she was still extremely fast in my eyes and had looked strong at the finish to me. Instead, all I could do was tell her that she had looked "really cool". That's what I said. That she was "really cool". Seriously. I could feel my cheeks burning as I struggled to redeem myself as an intelligent, coherent human being that knows how to carry on a simple conversation. No matter how much I tried, I couldn't get out the words. I think I told her she was "really cool" about 5 times. She was very sweet about it and seemed flattered and somewhat amused by the sympathetic smile she gave me. After she signed my magazine, I took it and scurried back to my chair where I collapsed into a hunched up little ball, shaking with excitment, my cheeks still bright red. Jason, laughing, asked, "What's wrong with you?" He says I'm a "funny, little person".

I feel like Chris Farley in that skit he used to do for SNL, where he would interview a famous celebrity.
"So, remember back when you used to sing for the Beatles?" Farley
"Yeah." McCartney
"That was really cool." Farley (and me with Michellie!)
(Several minutes later, Farley would slap his forehead several times, muttering, "Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!" Again--this is me.)
I don't understand. I give presentations about lipid metabolism and adipocytes and atherosclerosis in front of intimidating professors all the time. I have a Ph.D. for Pete's sake! And I can't complete a coherent sentence when I meet one of my real-life heroes? Oh, well. All I know is that I'm forbidden to use the word "cool" for 3 months!

Michellie gave a great talk about her decision to do an Ironman. I think it's really incredible that she could win a silver medal at the Olympics for short-course and then win the World Championships for Ironman this year. She spoke about her accomplishments with great humility. She's very modest and emphasized that she's a "normal person who pays the bills and cleans the house just like everyone else." However, she also does Doggie Dashes with her min pins and Paula Newby-Fraser (not normal). She also talked about feeling like sh*t at the end of racing an Ironman and the mental challenges of being faced with running a marathon after biking 112 miles. I was struck by this. She may be able to finish the race in half the time it takes me to complete it but she feels the same things I feel and battles the same issues. That kind of renews my inspiration. Next time I'm out there hurting on a run, for some reason, I find it reassuring to know that Michellie's out there hurting on her runs as well.

proof that MJ actually came and spoke to our club!

In addition to describing her experiences, Michellie shared some insightful and important tips when training:
1. Learn from your mistakes. She said you don't want a "perfect" race because then you have nothing to learn for next time.
2. Know when to stop. It's okay to pull out if you're injured. Don't run through the pain.
3. You have to slow down to go long. This was one of the big things holding her back from going from short to long course. She didn't want to relinquish her speed. She says she's slower now but she's also stronger. This struck a chord with me because I've been beating myself up about not improving my times. Now, I realize I'm not training to go faster. I'm training to go longer. And you can't do both. You have to choose. Sigh.
4. Figure out your nutrition. She takes in about 300 calories an hour. 3 scoops of Carbo-Pro in each water bottle (4 for the bike on an Ironman course) and several gels and gummy worms. She also takes LOTS of electrolytes. I forget how many she takes on the bike but on the run, she takes 2 Thermalyte tablets every mile! She also takes Motivator towards the end of the run to give her a caffeine boost without the tummy upset. (As you can see, I paid close attention to her nutrition advice since I'm working it out myself for my training.)
5. Get lots of sleep and rest.
6. It's the weeks of training and preparation before the race that counts, not the night before (lots of people have insomnia the night before but she believes as long as you're well-rested before that, you should be fine. I've heard this before. Reassuring next time you're tossing and turning!).

All in all, it was great to hear her speak about her experiences. Turns out, she rides horses too! Her mare is actually pregnant right now. Okay, now I'm jealous! I want a horse again!


bunnygirl said...

Well, if i tmakes you feel any better, I'm usually unsure what to say to famous people, too.

I figure there's probably nothing I can say or ask that they haven't heard a thousand times already. And I'm not good at talking just for talking's sake. If I have nothing to say, I prefer to say nothing. But you're not supposed to say nothing. You're supposed to be brilliant and witty, whether you've got anything original or useful to say or not.

It's frustrating.

One can only hope that someone as "cool" as Michellie understands! :-)

Jenö said...

These are really great tips.

I'm like you when I come across someone of note - usually I resort to giving them what I think is the "knowing" smile and nod that is supposed to let them know that I know, but I probably just end up looking like a stalker.

Jack said...

Thats really cool that you got to meet Michellie, she seems so down to earth. Great tips too!

Cookie Monster said...

How cool!

Jodi said...

WOW! I am so jealous. What an awesome experience. Thanks for relaying the advice to us. I struggled with slowing down too, but since I realized my speed is still there when I need I'm much more relaxed about it. Slowing down allows you to go much farther in training with much faster recovery.

And I love that SNL skit!

Chris Farley was my favorite.


Zoo said...

very very cool. I really think I need to move out of NE and come over to San Diego, you guys have way too many cool things going on, not to mention the excellent weather.

Kate said...

That is sooo cool! and such good advice from her- I really need to think about nutrition!

Triteacher said...

Woah! That is really cool! And as you can see, I would have said the same thing in Her presence. Thanks for filling us in on the tips too.

JeffM said...

Score! Great tips, autograph, and you got to talk to her.

RunBubbaRun said...

Wow, you have an awesome tri club to have people like that talk at your meetings. Somebody told me the same thing about #3, either go long or race short, you can't do both, and I believe it. Glad to hear it from her. Thanks for the tips.

Tammy said...

Um, where is MY autographed copy?!?! Hel-LO?!?!!? what kind of friend are you anyway. Hmmmfph!

Anonymous said...

Your experience meeting MJ sounds like when I got to meet the Kahuna and Robo-Stu. I think all I managed to say was "Awesome" and "Cool." :-) Anyway, it sounds like you had a blast.

Bolder said...

two words for you missy:




now i'm craving gummy worms.

qcmier said...

That's...Really cool.

bbieberitz said...

That is pretty cool. A brush with greatness!